Pillow Selection for People with Restless Leg Syndrome

Understanding Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s limbs, causing an irresistible urge to move them, often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. These sensations typically occur in the evening or nighttime hours when sitting or lying down. RLS can lead to trouble with falling asleep or staying asleep, which in turn can significantly affect a person’s quality of life.

Proper sleep hygiene practices can indeed mitigate some of the discomfort caused by RLS. Among these practices is creating a comfortable sleeping environment, which undeniably includes choosing the appropriate bedding. In particular, selecting the right pillow can play a beneficial role.

Why Pillow Choice Matters for RLS

Pillows are not only about head support. They can also be strategically positioned to alleviate discomfort in various body parts. For individuals with Restless Leg Syndrome, a pillow can serve to prop up the legs or provide cushioning that may help to minimize symptoms. Therefore, selecting the appropriate pillow is essential for RLS sufferers aiming to have a restful night.

The Importance of Support and Comfort

A good pillow will offer both support and comfort. It keeps the body aligned while also providing a gentle cushioning effect. For RLS sufferers, the support can help maintain a position that eases symptoms, while the comfort can help soothe the legs and promote relaxation.

Materials and Filling

The material and filling of a pillow determine its breathability, firmness, and response to pressure—all factors that affect sleep quality. Memory foam, latex, down, and down alternative are common fillings, each with distinct characteristics that may appeal to different preferences or needs.

Selecting the Best Pillow for RLS

When choosing a pillow for someone with Restless Leg Syndrome, several factors must be considered to ensure it will be helpful rather than a hindrance to a good night’s sleep.

Consider the Filling

  • Memory Foam: Molds to the shape of the body, providing excellent support and pressure relief. However, some may find memory foam too warm.
  • Latex: Offers a balance of support and comfort and is generally more breathable than memory foam. It’s also hypoallergenic and durable.
  • Down: Down pillows are very soft and may not offer the support needed for someone with RLS. Yet, they are luxurious and can be comforting for some.
  • Down Alternative: Feels like down but is usually made of polyester fibers. It may offer a good balance between support and softness while being more affordable and easier to care for than down.

Adjustability and Firmness

An adjustable pillow, one where you can remove or add stuffing, can be particularly beneficial as it allows for customization of firmness and loft (height of the pillow). Some individuals with RLS might find a firmer pillow under their legs can provide better support and relief, while others may prefer a softer pillow for cushioning.

Shape and Size

Pillows come in various shapes and sizes. For someone with RLS, a body pillow or a wedge pillow might provide the additional support needed for their legs. For instance, a body pillow between the legs can help maintain a comfortable position, and a wedge pillow can elevate the legs to potentially reduce symptoms.

Easing RLS Symptoms with the Right Pillow

Positioning Pillows for Comfort

Using pillows to create the most comfortable sleeping position is a technique known as ‘pillow therapy’. It involves strategically placing pillows around the body for optimized support. For example, placing a pillow under the knees can ease the tension in the legs.

The Role of Cooling Technology

Some pillows feature cooling technology, which can be a godsend for RLS sufferers, as heat can often exacerbate symptoms. Gel-infused memory foam, breathable fabric covers, and phase-change materials are examples of innovations incorporated into pillows to reduce heat retention.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

Beyond pillow selection, adapting lifestyle and home remedies may contribute to managing RLS symptoms. Activities such as moderate exercise can improve symptoms, but should not be too close to bedtime. Moreover, relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation before bed may help soothe the restless sensations.

The advice of renowned sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, also known as “The Sleep Doctor”, underscores the importance of creating a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation and preparing the body for sleep. Though he doesn’t specifically talk about pillows in relation to RLS, his emphasis on the sleep environment aligns with the need to choose appropriate bedding for symptom alleviation.

Seeking Medical Advice

While the right pillow can certainly make a difference, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider for a comprehensive approach to managing Restless Leg Syndrome. They might suggest a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and other treatments to improve the condition.

Finishing Thoughts

Choosing the right pillow is not a guaranteed cure for Restless Leg Syndrome, but it can certainly contribute to a more comfortable and restful sleep. Individuals with RLS should consider the type of filling, adjustability, firmness, and the specific shape or size of the pillow that might best help in alleviating their symptoms.

Sleep comfort is highly personal, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s necessary to test, adjust, and even combine different pillows and sleeping positions to find what provides the most relief.

Top 5 Pillows Recommended By GoodSleepHub.com

In the end, achieving the best sleep setup can empower those with Restless Leg Syndrome to tackle their condition head-on, ensuring that their nights are as restful as possible.


  • Ashton Roberts

    I love learning and sharing everything about sleep. I am one of the energetic editors here at GoodSleepHub, where I talk about how to get a better night's sleep. When I'm not writing, I'm probably walking my dog Luna or trying out new sleeping gadgets. My goal is to help you sleep easier and better. Join me, and let's find simple ways to enjoy great sleep every night!

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